It may seem like a far-fetched idea to some, but Minister of Education Ronald Jones would like to see a sixth form in all of the country’s secondary schools.
And while he has admitted it was a process that may “take awhile”, Jones has already identified the Alleyne School, Coleridge and Parry and Deighton Griffith as schools he would like to see become sixth-form establishments in the short term.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY in an interview this morning shortly after attending the launch of Alexandra School’s sixth form, he said it was an initiative which would greatly benefit the island’s youth.
“I think it is very possible. You start a journey and this is a journey. We’ve had four schools [with sixth forms] for so many years – Harrison College, Queen’s College, the Lodge School and Combermere – and they have made such outstanding contributions across the board.
“Sixth forms are really post-secondary education and they provide an opportunity for students who may not necessarily be ready to enter the University of the West Indies or the Barbados Community College another alternative,” he said.
“Right now, there is room and opportunity for Alleyne, which is an extremely well organized school, and along with Deighton Griffith and Coleridge and Parry, I would like to see them become sixth form establishments in the shorter term.”
As a result of additional sixth-forms being introduced at Springer Memorial, Christ Church Foundation, St Leonard’s Boys, the St Michael School and Alexandra, Jones said over 400 students were now benefiting from the “extra room.”
“I thought that it would be sensible to have more if not all of our schools going up to 18 years. And then since we were also offering CVQ’s [Caribbean Vocational Qualifications] and strengthening the middle of the school with the CCSLC [Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence], it meant that we had to truly expand the sixth form offerings.
“It came at a time when we had the global turmoil of economic instability, economic recession and therefore after the first two schools – St Michael School and Foundation – we had a hiatus, because we couldn’t be adding more financial burdens on the landscape…but it was not a forgotten project,” Jones said.
He admitted though that one of the biggest issues facing the Ministry was the lack of space at schools.
The Minister said while only 20 students were enrolled at Alexandra’s sixth form currently, those numbers were sure to increase.
As a result, he said additional classes would have to be built to accommodate additional students.
“Even at fifth-form level at some schools we have space restrictions . . . right here at Alexandra we will have to build about three additional classrooms,” the minister said. (RB)